Matt Kurtz, (1985-2017)
Matt was an incredibly amazing human being. His charismatic charm, bright beaming smile, and genuine goodness drew everyone he met to him.
He was contagiously happy, with a huge capacity for optimism and compassion.
He was super smart, really humble and greeted everyone he met with a beautiful open, non-judgemental heart. He lived 30+ years as a positive, happy compassionate person.
Then he was attacked by a mental illness. He was an innocent victim who did nothing to deserve what happened to him. He was the last person we would expect to have a mental illness because he lived a life of optimism and compassion. But that was when we were naive about mental illness.
Now we know that mental illness can happen to anyone, even the most positive person among us.
It does not discriminate, it attacks randomly, it could happen to you or someone you love. In fact it happens to 1 in 5 adults so you probably know someone who is suffering from mental health issues.
Matt suffered from schizophrenia. It happened fast and none of us understood what the hell was happening. We were scared, confused and didn’t know where to turn for help. All we knew was that we loved Matt fiercely and we tried everything we could to help him fight what we had no name for. Matt said, “I’m afraid something bad is going to happen to me.” He did not want to die. He loved life.
So we learned not only that it attacks innocent people, but that people with mental illness are fierce fighters. They work so hard to defeat their horrible illness.
There’s a stereotype that people with mental illness are weak but it’s just the opposite. They get up every day and fight to live and get their life back.
Matt did not use drugs or alcohol. He fought by eating super healthy, exercising every day, meditating constantly and trying hard to fight the negative thoughts coming into his mind. Matt lost his battle with mental illness May, 2017.
While we still don’t have the answers to solving mental health issues, we know one thing that can help is to bring it into the light and treat it for what it is, an illness that no one deserves. Let’s talk about it without judgement.
Mental health should be discussed the same as physical health.
If someone is suffering from mental health issues they and their family should receive our compassion and we should be sharing stories of what helped and what didn’t.
Silence keeps us isolated from the facts . . . end the silence. By speaking out we can create lasting change.
Our actions tell more about us than words and intentions.
While Matt only lived 32 years, he touched so many lives.
Here are a few of the people who’s lives were impacted by Matt’s actions.
“Matt you were always a believer in me! Your wisdom has helped make me such a better person.
Matt Kurtz was the only one there for me when my own family left me high and dry! Your son helped me prosper in life and helped turn me into who I am today. He gave me money to get work clothes, pay rent and even enough to bring my kids home! He simply said not to worry about ever paying it back but pay it forward to always help others.” – Claudio
“I was immediately drawn to his personality. He was very humble and never had an ill word to say about someone. Even if he could have, he just didn’t. I loved his outlook on life. I just wanted to say that I think he was genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He was there for me in one of the lowest spots of my life, and always supported me.” – Ricky
“After college my parents had cut me off in hopes I would finally get a job and I was pretty much doing what I could to scrape rent money together but the money was not coming in fast enough and rent is expensive in Boulder. About 6 months in I was looking at not being able to pay my rent. My brother not only offered to cover my rent but he also give me additional spending money until I had enough money saved up, and never asked me to pay him back.
Again and again he was there for me when I was struggling the most. He didn’t want anything in return. He just wanted his brother to be happy”. – Brian (Matt’s brother and best friend)
“Matt was the most accepting genuine person I have ever met. It’s crazy how I feel he affected my life’s journey. Truly turned me into a different person which has touched every aspect of my life.” – Spencer
“Matt had the biggest heart and never a negative word to say about anyone. Matt showed me tremendous kindness during what were my most difficult years. I’ll always be grateful for the time I had the privilege of being in his presence.” – Abby
“I envied so much his capacity for optimism and empathy. There is no doubt I am a better person for the time I was blessed to share with him.” – Shane
“Matt was so care free and willing to help. He literally slept in the back of his truck on the beach so I would have a place to sleep while I visited him in San Diego.” – David
“Matt bought a used van in Vancouver during a winter trip and then, instead of selling it, gave it to a homeless person so they would have someplace to sleep.” – Ron (Matt’s Dad)
A part of each of us died with Matt, but a part of Matt lives on within each of us. The greatest gift we can give to Matt, is to live fully in his place. Everyday we try to find joy and gratitude in having the honor of being loved so dearly by Matt. – Jackie, Ron and Brian Kurtz (Matt’s Mom, Dad and Brother)